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Merit Beauty Review (2023): Clean, Minimalist Makeup

I’m all about minimalist beauty so when I heard about Merit’s clean skincare line. I was definitely intrigued! Merit Beauty was created to reimagine luxury beauty by making it clean, well-edited, and accessible. The line contains all the basic products you need to create a beautiful and natural look while also being good for your skin.

*Updated August 23, 2023. Some products were gifted but all opinions are my own. Contains affiliate links.

Since Merit launched in the beginning of 2021 I’ve been slowing adding to my collection. The brand has been kind enough to gift me a few items but the majority of the products I’ve bought myself – that’s how much I love this brand! Below you’ll find a review of ALL the Merit Beauty products currently available (minus the brow pomade and shade slick gelees). And I’ll be updating this post whenever I get new products in.

About Merit Beauty

It was founded by Katherine Power who is also the founder and CEO of Who What Wear and Versed Skincare. When creating Merit Beauty, the team realized that people were looking for cleaner beauty products that also performed and make people look like the best (natural) version of themselves. And so Merit Beauty was born.

Is Merit Beauty Clean?

All of Merit’s products are EU-Compliant, Paraban-Free, Sulfate-Free, Artificial Fragrance-Free, and Clean at Sephora. They’ve also partnered with celebrity aesthetician, Biba de Sousa, to make sure the products are safe for all skin types by eliminating an additional 73 clean but potentially acne-triggering ingredients.

Merit considers themselves “clean” but not “all-natural” since they use non-toxic ingredients that are both natural and synthetic. Also, be aware that there is no official standard for “clean” beauty but Merit has the highest standards for safe and effective ingredients.

is merit beauty cruelty-free?

Yes, Merit is Cruelty-Free, Vegan, and certified by Leaping Bunny. Merit Beauty also cares about the planet and all of the orders are packaged in 100% recyclable packaging.

MERIT BEAUTY REVIEW

I’m reviewing the products in the order I would apply them

Great Skin Instant Glow Serum

The Great Skin Instant Glow Serum is one of Merit’s newer products. It’s a lightweight bi-phase serum that plumps and hydrates. This serum contains 4 types of hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated and Niacinamide to brighten.

I wasn’t sure I needed this serum because I have A TON of skincare products. But I really do like this serum and would purchase again. First of all, it looks gorgeous on my vanity (hey – aesthetics are important!). Second of all, it works great to prep the skin for the Complexion Stick. I have drier skin (especially in the winter) and I find the Complexion Stick works best when the skin is properly hydrated. The Glow Serum is also great on no makeup days to give the skin a nice glow. Overall, this is a great all-in-one serum that keeps my skin hydrated and glowy.

The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick

I loved that The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick can be foundation, concealer, or a contour stick depending on how you use it. I decided to use mine as foundation/concealer so I went with a shade to match my skin. If you want to use it as a contour stick, just take a shade or two darker!

I love the look of this product. The stick is so pretty and it’s a perfect size for fitting in any bag. I love that it’s a no-mess foundation. You don’t have to worry about this opening up in your bag and spilling all over the place. The stick design also allows you to apply it without getting your hands messy. I just draw a few lines on my face and then buff it out with a foundation brush.

FYI – my last several Complexion Sticks broke off in the tube. It doesn’t effect application too much but it was still kind of annoying. I would suggest only pushing out just enough product to apply to the skin.

Merit Complexion Stick vs. ILIA skin tint

The coverage is light to medium so it still lets your natural skin shine through. My go-to “foundation” is ILIA’s Skin Tint which is very dewy and hydrating. The Merit Complexion Stick is definitely not as dewy or moisturizing but it doesn’t feel drying either. However, I do make sure to properly moisturize and prep my face before application. The Complexion Stick is more matte than ILIA’s Skin Tint and provides a little more coverage. I also love using the Complexion Stick as a concealer. I’ll use it on my dark circles under my eyes in combination with my ILIA Skin Tint on the rest of my face.

I took a guess on my shade color and tried to compare the descriptions with the shade I wear from ILIA. I went with the “Silk” shade and I think it’s a good match for my skin tone. If you need more help picking your shade you can email Merit with a picture of your face and other brands you use and they can help you pick the right color!

Overall, I’m pleased with the Merit Beauty Complexion Stick. My go-to is still the ILIA Skin Tint because it has SPF but I like to use the Merit stick on days when I want more coverage or as a concealer.

Brush No. 1 Blending Brush

Brush No. 1 is the perfect compliment to the Complexion Stick to blend and buff product into the skin. It’s made with extra soft vegan bristles and a 100% recyclable aluminum handle.

I’m not an expert on brushes so I can’t say if this is the best brush I’ve ever used. But if you looking for a new blending brush this is a great option. It’s really soft and feels great on my skin. It does a great job of blending the Complexion Stick into my skin. My only complaint is that I wish it was double sided with a smaller, more tapered brush. I feel like that would make it easier to blend product around my eyes and nose. I also wish it was retractable with a lid to keep it mess free when I travel.

Bronze Balm Sheer Bronzer

The Bronze Balm is a sheer, buildable bronzer that gives skin warmth and depth. It comes in 5 shades to compliment all skin colors.

I was skeptical of this product because my skin is so fair that sometimes bronzers are too much. But I was pleasantly surprised with the product! It truly is a fool-proof formula. This bronzer blends in really nicely and gives my skin warmth and contour without being too much. I also love that it’s not shimmery. It’s a creamy, satin finish that looks so natural. I picked the shade Quince according to their color chart.

Swatches top to bottom: Day Glow in Cava, Flush Balm in Fox, Bronze Balm in Quince

Flush Balm Cheek Color

The Flush Balm is a creamy, buildable cheek color that comes in 9 shades.

Again, this product is really blendable and easy to apply. It does blend in pretty sheer but you can layer it to build more color. I went with the Fox shade for a light, natural color. Since the Flush Balm does blend in pretty sheer I think you can pick a darker or more bold shade and still get a natural look.

My only complaint is that I don’t think it’s super long lasting. Maybe that’s because I always apply it pretty light. But I’ve tried other cheek colors that seem to last longer.

Day Glow Highlighting Balm

The Day Glow is a dewy highlighter to give the perfect glow without being sparkly. It comes in three shades.

I hesitated to buy this highlighting balm because I was afraid to look sparkly like other highlighters. But the Day Glow is very subtle and not sparkly! I went with Cava because I thought it would work best with my fair skin. This highlighter gives off just enough sheen to give a natural glow. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the shades because the color is so light.

Solo Shadow

Solo Shadow is Merit’s newest product! A cream to powder shadow that gives a soft, matte wash of color. It’s buildable and blendable and comes in 4 neutral shades and 4 color.

I’ll be honest – eyeshadow kind of intimidates me. I feel like I can never get it to look right. So I was kind of skeptical that I would like this. Turns out – I love it! It’s really easy to apply and blend. You can apply it for a very light wash of color or layer for a bold look. I picked out the Vachetta shade and it’s a nice warm beige. The STUDIO shade might have been a better color for my fair skin so I’ll have to give that a try sometime!

I was surprised that I really like the Statement color shades! I fell in love with the VIPER green shade when the products launched and ordered it right away. It looks great as a soft eyeliner and is subtle enough to go over the whole lid as well.

Solo Shadow in Viper and Vachetta

Brush No. 2 Eyeshadow Brush

Brush No. 2 is the perfect compliment to the Solo Shadow. It’s a dual ended brush that allows you to create a wash of color over the lid or draw more precise lines around your lash line.

This brush works great with the Solo Shadow. The bristles are dense enough to apply the right amount of the cream to powder shadow. And I really like that it has the small tapered end to apply the shadow as a liner. If you don’t already have a good eyeshadow brush this would be a great one to pick up.

Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara

Clean Lash is a tubing mascara to tint, lengthen, and lift lashes. It comes in one shade – Perfect Black.

I’m not a huge fan of mascara because I prefer lash extensions. My lashes are very heavy and curl resistant so when I am wearing mascara I look for light formulas that aren’t clumpy and won’t weigh my lashes down. My go-to has been the ILIA Limitless Lash mascara because I like the formula and the dual sided brush which makes it really easy to lift and separate the lashes. However, the ILIA mascara is not a tubing mascara so I was excited to try out the Merit Clean Lash.

I’ve changed my mind on Merit’s mascara. At first I couldn’t really tell a major difference. But after wearing this mascara for awhile I’ve realized that this tubing mascara does lengthen my lashes. I’ve also noticed that it doesn’t smudge that easily. I’ve rubbed my eyes and haven’t had much transfer. FYI, you will need to double cleanse this mascara off – it stays on really well. I think I might be switching from ILIA to Merit….

Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil

I’m always wearing a lip color so I definitely wanted to give Merit’s Shade Slick a try. My lips are also always dry so I’m always on the hunt for lip colors that are hydrating as well. The Shade Slick is my go-to lip color now. I’ve since bought it in a couple shades – Au Natural, Taupe, and Marrakech. My favorite is probably Taupe because it’s a really neutral shade that goes with everything.

The Shade Slick comes in a really small bottle though – like a travel size. I actually like the size because I have so many lip colors and I feel like I never end up using the whole bottle. BUT if you are planning on using this everyday exclusively then I don’t think it will last a long time. The color also doesn’t last a long time. I do have to reapply often. But I love the feel of this lip oil so I don’t mind!

The Shade Slicks are also available in four Gelées colors which are more sheer than the original Shade Slick. I would like to try out the JETÉ color eventually. The description says that they are formulated with color blooming pigments to adjust to your lips so that the shade will appear slightly different on everyone. I think that sounds interesting!

Signature Lip lightweight lipstick and shade slick tinted lip oil

Signature Lip: Aperitif + Slip || Shade Slick top to bottom: Taupe, Au Natural, Marrakech

Signature Lip lightweight lipstick

The Signature Lip is a hydrating, buildable lipstick with a soft satin finish that comes in 8 shades.

I don’t often find myself reaching for lipsticks anymore because I prefer lip tints. But Merit recently released their limited edition red shade Aperitif this summer and I thought it looked like the perfect red so I ordered it! I think they bring back Aperitif during the holiday season so keep an eye out.

The Signature Lip is easy to apply and feels creamy. I have really dry lips so I still prefer the Shade Slick over the lipstick. I also just got the Signature Lip in Slip which is a warm neutral. It comes across as a neutral brown on my lips. I wear it under one of my Shade Slicks to give my lips more dimension. I think the color Baby would have been slightly more flattering on me since it has more neutral pinkish tones.

Overall, the Signature Lip is easy to apply. Sometimes I have problems applying red shades to my lip because I feel like it has to be perfect. But I don’t really have a problem applying the Aperitif shade. The only downside is that I don’t feel like the product is long lasting. I definitely have to reapply after meals or throughout the day.

Wearing Glow Serum, Complexion Stick in Silk, Bronze Balm in Quince, Flush Balm in Fox, Day Glow in Cava, Solo Shadow in Viper, Mascara, Signature Lip in Slip, and Shade Slick in Taupe.

Overall Thoughts

I do really like the aesthetics of this line. The quality of the products is very nice as well. Like I said above, I’ve purchased almost the entire line and it’s now my go-to makeup routine. All of Merit Beauty’s products are hydrating and easy to apply. If you are looking for fool-proof makeup that will give you a natural, dewy look then this is it!

The downside to Merit products is that I don’t think they are long lasting. I do have to reapply for the afternoon/evening. And if you are looking for full coverage products Merit is not for you. Even with building and layering Merit products you still get a very natural look.

My MUST-HAVE products from Merit’s line are the Complexion Stick and Shade Slick. I’ve already repurchased the Complexion Stick and Shade Slick multiple times. My other favorites from the line are the Bronze Balm, Flush Balm, and Solo Shadow, Glow Serum, and Lengthening Mascara.

Another thing I like about this line is that you get a free makeup bag with your first purchase from Meritbeauty.com. It’s so cute that it can be used as a clutch too!

Merit Beauty is also sold exclusively at Sephora.com! So if you prefer to shop at Sephora, make sure to add some Merit products to your cart!

Watch my Merit Beauty Makeup Routine

You can see the Merit Complexion Stick and Shade Slick in action below!

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